Rumor has it that pediatric physical therapists are also known as exercise disguisers, the loudest cheerleaders, and master negotiators. Wonder what fun physical therapy games are commonly used? Read on to find out three of my favorite pediatric physical therapy activities!
3 Fun Physical Therapy Games and Activities
1. Hungry Hippos
Welcome to the real-life version of the popular tabletop game: Hungry Hungry Hippos! Who will ‘eat’ the most bean bags?
- Equipment required: 2 peanut balls & 10 throwing beanbags
- Positioning: Have your child lay on their stomach over the peanut ball and position their hands on the ground ensuring that their shoulder is directly over their elbow and wrist. Your child may or may not require assistance at their hips to maintain balance over the peanut ball as they walk their hands forward to retrieve the bean bags.
- Targeted areas: Upper limb weight bearing, upper limb strength, shoulder stability, core strength, and motor planning.
2. Scooter Board Races
On your mark…get set and GO! Who will win round one of the scooter board races? Remember, you can only use your arms. For the next round, you’ll be able to use your legs!
- Equipment required: 2 scooter boards
- Positioning: Have your child lay on their stomach with their toes off the ground so that they can propel the scooter board forward using both arms simultaneously. To make this game more challenging trickier, have your child use a reciprocal pattern, alternating one arm at a time. Ensure that their head is up, and the front of their hips always maintain contact with the scooter board. For the next race, have your child lay on their back with the soles of their feet on the wall. Ensure that their hips and knees are in a table-top position (90 degrees) before pushing off against the wall, extending their lower limbs. To make this race trickier, add some weights on the scooter board or perform a single leg push-off the wall.
- Targeted areas: Upper limb strength, back extensor strength, lower abdominal strength, lower limb strength.
3. Ninja Warrior
Can you step over or army crawl under these laser beams without touching it? If you touch it, you will have to start the mission again.
- Equipment required: 7 to 10 long strips of masking tape & a narrow hallway
- (place the strips of tape at different heights and angles between the two walls)
- Positioning: Have your child in standing when climbing over the laser beams and army crawling when going under. When stepping over each laser beam, make sure that they are bending at their hips and knees to bring their legs upwards then forwards to prevent lower limb circumduction, swinging of leg out to the side and around. Alternate going over then under each laser beam to make this activity more challenging.
- Targeted areas: Motor planning, visual attention to task, visual scanning, proprioception, single leg balance, lower limb strength and control.
We hope your kids enjoyed these pediatric physical therapy activities and games!
Find Additional Pediatric Physical Therapy Activities in the NAPA Blog:
About the Author
Pauline Chuang is a physiotherapist at NAPA Centre Sydney. She is passionate towards helping kids reach their fullest potential through creating a fun, inclusive, and empowering environment. When not at work, you can find her indulging in some ice cream, embracing her sweatiness at the gym, or exploring another coastal walk.